EGAP 7 – University of British Columbia (27-28 Apr 2012)

Talk 1: Kelly Bidwell – “Research Design: The Impact of Information on Voter Knowledge and Engagement: Evidence from the 2012 Elections in Sierra Leone”

Talk 2: Guy Grossman – “Political Information Barriers to Public Service Delivery: Innovations in Strengthening Local Political Accountability in Uganda”

Talk 3: Lynn Vavrek – “The Consequences of Face-to-Face Interviews for Respondents with Low Cognitive Skills: A Randomized Experiment assigning In-person & Self-complete Survey Modes”

Talk 4: Macartan Humphreys – “Social and Economic Impacts of Tuungane – Final Report on the Effects of a Community Driven Reconstruction Program in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo”

Talk 5
: DFID, Gates, and others: Making use of Development Research for Development policy

Thoughts from APGC (academic progress goes clunk):
As a young graduate student, participating in events such as this one is a great opportunity to meet advanced researchers in the field and to learn in a highly academic but non-classroom environment. Invariably I pick up as much around a bottle of wine at dinner as I do during the talks themselves. The structure of this particular conference is, however, very different from the norm. Instead of listening to a series of professors and policy-makers present their methods and findings, we were expected to read the papers (in various degrees of completion) ahead of time and to then contribute to a discussion of the experimental techniques used. Methods were taken up most often but some participants engaged with the theoretical work informing each unique project.

I have been very impressed with the quality of information being disseminated. Comments are well thought out and delivered with an eye for construction rather than destruction. If only undergraduates (and really anyone in any combative field) could see how academics interact at this level, the world might be a more collaborative place. What’s more, despite my comparatively low status in this group, I have been encouraged to participate (read: not laughed at) and generally felt welcome (read: not politely excused from the room). These are not my colleagues, but they may be one day and it is nice to feel at home amongst such an illustrious group.

My advice to graduate students: if you have the opportunity to participate in a conference of this type (or even this conference next year), take it!


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